The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has threatened to withdraw some of its essential services to the Gombe and Kebbi Airports over debts estimated at about N731,873,721 million.

According to the Authority, the state owned airports will be shut by May 1, 2019 if they fail to pay up their debts. The aviation security as well as aerodrome rescue and fire fighting personnel are, provided by FAAN which is in line with the Nigerian Civil aviation regulations.

The withdrawal of security, rescue and fire fighting services by FAAN could mean the shut down of the airports as the Nigerian civil aviation law prohibits the operation of flight services in airports bereft of those critical services.

According to reports, the breakdown of the debt which were backdated to September 10, 2018 shows that Gombe airports owes FAAN N607,289,972 , while Kebbi owes N124, 547, 240.

Spokesperson for FAAN, Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu, noted that Gombe and Kebbi airports are more indebted to the authority but further explained that other private airports indebted to FAAN will follow suit.

FAAN also said it had earlier sent a notice of intention to sanction the operators of the affected airports to settle their debts on or before April 24. The agency said it had, however, added another seven days grace till April 30 for all outstanding debts to be settled.

The circular read: “ Following the notice of intention to sanction issued to owners/operators of private airports indebted to FAAN which lapses on Wednesday April 24, 2019, FAAN hereby serves another seven days notice of grace  till Tuesday April 30 for them to settle the debts.

“In view of the above, FAAN hereby notifies private airport operators that the services of our aviation security as well as aerodrome rescue and fire fighting personnel will no longer be available for operations of their airports with effect from Wednesday May 1, 2019, as FAAN can no longer keep these personnel at airports without payment.

It will be recalled that a similar action was taken by the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) last year when it closed Osubi and other airstrips owned by private firms and state governments over debts in excess of N4 billion incurred over the years.